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Forget Vegas

Kameli Rakoko
Thursday, January 30, 2014

BEFORE the Las Vegas sevens a couple of Fiji fans in the US had requested my views on the current Fiji Sevens team strength as they were going over to watch for the first time.

I told them that their money would not be wasted as this was a good sevens team with a good sevens coach as they had thrashed New Zealand in Dubai 44-0.

As it happened we lost the games against New Zealand and Australia and struggled in the first half against Scotland.

They have not called me yet but I don't think they will again ask for my opinion the next time.

However, if Fijian fans want to know my opinion of our performance in the New Zealand sevens it remains the same.

This is still a strong team and they are going to win the Wellington Sevens if the coaching team does not panic and lets the side over-train again as they did in Vegas.

You do not have to be a qualified trainer but to be a reader of this column to understand what we have always said that dropping passes are signs of fatigue.

But even if a lot of heavy training was done there are recovery methods like pool sessions and the most effective — the hot and cold or ice therapy.

The second common mistake this team repeats is the failure to win rucks.

These two things can be quickly rectified and hopefully the coaching team will work on it in New Zealand.

As for the referees they have their off-days and we hope the Rastaman will improve his refereeing in New Zealand.

Ben Ryan is still learning his way through the various moods of the Fijian players but one thing he should have been told by his predecessors is that the Fijian player plays best when he is happy and relaxed.

Too many technical aspects at one time often stifle the performance and mistakes follow.

Opinions around the grog bowl in the weekend are numerous and some hold some interesting insights into the Fijian player.

A church minister, quoting a former star Fiji player, said Fijians do not need to go to the blackboard.

Their blackboard is in their head and all they need is to be fit to use it.

Also the heavy staple food of dalo and cassava requires a lot of running in training to reach peak fitness.

In the fifteens code Flying Fijians forward coach Alifereti Mocelutu was disappointed with the fitness results of the squad.

Test results showed that they have not been doing their road running as required by the training programs.

So whoever is going to take over the national coaching position this season will have a lot on his plate.

First he will have to get the players fit and then work on team combinations.

The best fitness test result to see if players have been doing their runs is the way they tackle.

Fiji teams of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties were known to be masters of the low tackle, ankle level.

You got to have super abdominal fitness to continue to tackle low in a rugby game and that came from a lot of running in training.

So if the Fiji squad players are not doing their running as required, expect our players to equal or break the number of high tackles and yellow cards in a game again.

But players also play the way they train and if there is any new year's resolution for Fijian coaches it is to totally eradicate the high tackle from Fijian rugby.

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